Maturation

The new make comes with about 70-75% direct from the still and has to be diluted with water down to 63,5%.  A whisky with more than 63,5% needs a longer time for maturation and one under 63,5% can be to weak after the years in the cask.

Whisky was sold directly from the still until the 19th century and it was bottled in stone jars. Pubs in Glasgow got their whisky six weeks after the harvest of the summer barley in 1814. The whisky was softened with honey and herbs to make it drinkable. In the middle of the 19th century the maturation in cask was discovered. 90% of the todays casks are bourbon casks and the other 10% are sherry casks. The whisky takes tannins, sugars, oils, vanilin and cellulose from the cask and bad aromas goes with the angels share straight up. Light bodied whisky´s like Lowland malts have a faster maturation than heavier malts. The kind of former cask use, the geography and the micro climate are essential factors in whisky maturation. Today we expect that about 60 to 80% of the characteristics of a whisky come straight from the wood.

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The wood contracts and expands and therefore the cask will loose about 2% each year of its content. This is called the angels share. The customs office accept 2% of angels share every year but in cool warehouses there will be only a loss of 4-5% in ten years. Traditionel warehouses were made of stone with an earth floor and space for three rows of whisky in heigth. There is a slower maturation in traditional warehouses than in modern climated ones.

 

Modern warehouses have up to 12 rows in heigth and they are climated. Macallan has the biggest warehouse on an area of 2000m² and space for 70.000 casks.

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